Parents' Guide to Solano Avenue - 510 Families
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Parents’ Guide to Solano Avenue

Solano Avenue offers a charming collection of restaurants, shops and local business. It stretches from Albany, all the way up the hill to North Berkeley, and has a bunch of terrific family gems. We’ve rounded up our favorite kid friendly spots, from tasty tacos to independent toy stores.

Solano-Ave-Mural
The beautiful mural on at the corner of Masonic and Solano on the Abrams Claghorn Art Gallery is a fun picture opportunity. | Photo: Julie Herson

Where To Eat With Kids On Solano

Snack Food & Nibbles

  • Noah’s Bagels: At the top of Solano is a Noah’s Bagels, if you’ve managed to get out of the house during the breakfast hour, grab a dozen or a sandwich for a park playdate. (Editor: Bagel snobs may not relish a Noah’s bagel, but your kiddos will happily enjoy theirs.)
  • Cactus Taqueria: For lunchtime, Cactus Taqueria is an excellent choice with inexpensive kid-sized portions, and chips, plenty of chips.
Cactus Taqueria
Cactus Taqueria | Photo: Anna Azimi
  • Lavender Bakery: Just down the block, at the intersection of Colusa, there’s a European inspired cafe with beautiful pastries and tasty coffee.
  • Andronico’s: This great grocery store has a full deli counter and many ready-to-eat items if you are considering an outdoor lunch at a nearby park.
  • Peet’s or Starbucks: Both great options for hot cocoa and some nibbles.

Real Food

  • Zachary’s Pizza: A go-to take-out for Heather’s family, located near the top of Solano.
  • Barney’s Burgers: Half-way down the strip, Barney’s Burgers can be customized with pretty much any topping, any meat, or no topping, and in the case of my kids, no meat. (This is known as a grilled cheese sandwich.)
  • Solano Junction: A causal, family friendly coffee shop that makes great pancakes and egg dishes. (Organic! And free-range!)
  • Bowl’d Korean Rice Bar:  Lots of parents and kids like this spot and they offer a fun kid-friendly plate.
  • Oori Rice Triangles: When there’s sticky rice and food as a shape, toddlers will be willing.
  • iSlice: A small little pizza spot ideal for a quick slice.
  • Boss Burger: A seriously good burger, but also chicken, veggie and hot dog options. Soft serve for dessert!
  • Little Star Pizza: A fancier but favorite option for our family if we’re in the mood for deep dish. It’s down at the West end of the strip. Lovely outdoor seating area.
  • Cafe Raj: Finally, if you are a family who like to go letterboxing, there is a fun-to-discover stamp hiding in Cafe Raj near the bathroom. Even if you don’t know what letterboxing is, you can bring a blank piece of paper to embellish with their amazing handmade stamp of the Taj Mahal.

Bonus food tip: Parents on a date with a baby in tow might enjoy some tasty tacos and beer at 5TacosAndBeers. Order a side of avocado for the babe or guacamole if she likes a little flavor.

99 Kid-friendly Restaurants in the East Bay>>

Summer Pizza Picnic
Grab a pie to-go for a pizza party at the park | Photo: Anna Azimi

Sweet Treats for kids on Solano

  • iScream: Artisan and fresh ice cream with the most delectable cones. Malted chocolate is a fave of ours.
  • The Xocolate Bar: The aroma alone is worth the visit to this local chocolate shop. The drinking chocolate is quite a treat.
  • Suzette Crepe Cafe: A super casual cafe with crepes both savory or sweet, combining whatever ingredients you want.
  • As You Wish: A frozen yogurt spot that allows you to serve yourself and charges you by weight. My kids LOVE this place. Outdoor seating is available at the cute little parklet (grab some coffee at Hal’s Office while your kids enjoy their fro-yo).
Albany-Parklet-Frozen-Yogurt
Enjoying some fro-yo in the cute little parklet outside of As You Wish and Hal’s Office coffee shop | Photo: Julie Herson
  • Tay Tah Cafe: Across the street from the Albany Post Office, they serve Tapioca drinks and Mitchell’s ice cream. The smoothies are super tasty for a healthier treat. A few tables available for outdoor seating.
  • Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery: Not just for those steering clear of dairy. Founded by a local Berkeley brother team who know their ice cream.

Shopping with kids on Solano

  • Pegasus Books: Next to Cactus and has a kid section where you can sit and read.
  • The Stone Room: For your rock collecting kids. Tons of beautiful treasures to be found.
  • Chloe’s Closet: Cute little kids clothing and toy consignment store. I found some great snow clothes for my littles here.
Toy-Go-Around-Albany
So many great finds to be had at Toy Go Around in Albany | Photo: Julie Herson
  • Toy Go Round: Halfway down Solano, on the 1300 block. Used baby toys, construction toys, train tracks, books, doll clothes, and Playmobil sets. (Editor: One item I bought there was in excellent condition but missing a couple of pieces. Ask to open the package if necessary) Second-hand toys are about 60% of the current retail prices. This is a great source for a used trike or board games.
  • Flowerland: Just across from Toy Go Around. A plant nursery, but also a hip destination. The plant selection is vast, and the attached shop is a well-curated gift shop, plus an onsite tricked-out Airstream sells Highwire coffee.
  • Five Little Monkeys: A fabulous independent toy store with a clean bathroom for customers and free gift wrapping.

Activities for kids on Solano

ThousandOaks tot4
Having fun at Thousand Oaks Tot Park | Photo: Kat Choi
  • Thousand Oaks tot park: Take a right off of Solano on Ensenada to find the Thousand Oaks tot park, a good spot to unfold a packed lunch.

Where to Scramble: The Rock Parks of North Berkeley>>

  • Solano-Peralta Park: A “secret” park with a sandy play area, shade and seating.
  • Tutu School Berkeley: Learn to twirl and leap, then grab a sweet treat at the Lavender Bakery right next door.
  • Avenue Yarns: They have drop-in kids’ knitting classes on Tuesdays from 4pm – 5pm (2021: on hiatus until Covid Restrictions are lifted)

    tutu school berkeley
    Tutu School on Solano in Berkeley
  • The Exercise Yard: Just past the intersection of Solano and Masonic in Albany, some fun logs to balance on, exercise equipment, and seating for a snack time.
  • The Albany Y : Lots of great kids activities, from Kindergym drop-in to Kid’s night out (offerings and classes often change; call to confirm).
  • Albany Twin Movie Theater: An old-timey theater with a variety of indie options and occasional kid-friendly shows.

After-School Classes: In-Person Extracurriculars for East Bay Kids>>

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Albany-Exercise-Lot
The Albany Exercise Yard is a great place to work on your balancing skills | Photo: Julie Herson

Services for kids on Solano

  • Snippety Crickets: At 1753 Solano, they specialize in children’s haircuts. A huge wall of bribes is available, plus a train table for siblings who have to wait their turn.
  • Supercuts: at 1475 Solano My husband and sons go together and get matching haircuts. Then they get ice cream up at iScream on the way home. Make a chore a fun weekend activity!

Where East Bay Kids Get Their Haircut >>

Solano-Ave
Watching the BART, buses and cars on Solano | Photo: Julie Herson

Did we miss one your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Parents’ Guide to Solano Avenue”

  1. There is a “secret” tot park in Peralta Plaza at 1559 Solano Avenue (at Peralta and Capistrano Avenues) that is run by the City of Berkeley. It’s tiny, but great on a hot day, because there is lots of shade, benches for parents to relax on and (you may not want to point this out to the kids) a tot-height faucet that encourages water play.

    Bonus – you can score some ice cream or cold drinks at 7-11 and enjoy them at the park.

  2. Don’t miss out on the new ice cream shop, iScream, at 1819 Solano (at Colusa). It’s organic and kid friendly. And YUMMMMMMMY!

  3. For more information you can check out SolanoAvenue.org
    It is also home to the famous (family friendly) Solano Avenue Stroll every second Sunday in September since 1974. The Solano Avenue Association 510-527-5358 / solanoavenue.org thanks!

  4. Don’t forget Solano Avenue Cyclery right across from the park in Peralta Plaza. A bike bell, a helmet or a basket may not be a toy, but it sure is something a kid would love.

  5. The City of Albany Recreation Dept, Albany Strollers & Rollers and Solano Ave Cyclery host Bike About Town, a family bike ride through Albany every 4th Friday June – October. Riders start at Solano Ave Cyclery and then head down Solano for a 3-5 mile loop. Check out the City’s page (www.albanyca.org) for more information. It’s a great way to spend a Friday night out.

  6. Pingback: 5 outings for a baby in a carrier (giveaway!)

  7. The maps are available for sale at Brushstrokes for $5 each. Many of the listings have since closed, are there are new ones too of course. But the maps are great and include a listing of parks and amenities and other great resources. Because sometimes you actually need a real map and don’t want to be looking at your iPhone!

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